Contract Negotiations Under Way
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The union’s Maintenance Craft Officers are deeply involved in negotiations for our next contract. Western Region National Business Agent (NBA) Jimmie Waldon is assisting Director Steve Raymer and Assistant Directors Idowu Balogun and Terry B. Martinez on Maintenance Craft issues.
Our push to maintain the Postal Service as a significant part of the fabric of our nation will be ingrained in this round of negotiations. Thank you for being involved.
Open Season is Upon Us
Every three years a frequently overlooked provision of Article 38 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement comes into play.
Article 38.5.B.7 requires that, “Every three years, during the month of March, beginning with March 1, 2009, maintenance craft employees who are not on a promotional eligibility register(s), may apply for inclusion on the appropriate promotional eligibility register(s). Notification will be posted on the bulletin board on or before March 1st of the open season year. The employees who apply will receive the results of their application(s) no later than one hundred fifty (150) days from March 31, provided the applications have been properly completed by the applicants.”
The dates and timeframes included in the above provision harken back to when our craft used a different process for our Maintenance Selection System. While we may address this in the current contract negotiations, this is the relevant contract language that is being applied this year.
The instructions to local Postal Service management have been sent out by USPS headquarters. As per usual, our members are very likely going to have questions. We will try to address some of the more common ones and provide at least one significant note of caution.
Every occupational group and level authorized in an installation must have a Promotion Eligibility Register (PER). The open season exists as an opportunity for current Maintenance Craft employees (not employees in other crafts or the in-service register) to obtain eligible ratings on Maintenance Craft positions.
Only those individual Maintenance Craft employees who have not previously applied for a specific PER are entitled to this opportunity. While you are not permitted to apply for Open Season if you already have a rating on a specific PER (eligible or ineligible), you can apply for Open Season if there is a PER you haven’t previously applied for.
Open Season serves as your chance to identify yourself as qualified for positions at all levels. For instance, consider the example of someone who was hired off the street straight into an ET-10 position prior to 2009. Because the MSS was different prior to 2009, this ET-10 would not have any eligible in-craft ratings.
In order to be considered qualified to acquire a lower-level job, whether voluntarily or as a result of the impact of Article 12, the ET-10 must be able to generate an eligible rating for the lower-level position. This is why everyone in higher-level duty assignments should make sure they have eligible ratings for all lower-level jobs at their installation.
The scenario described above is our caution to you. Please avoid being declared ineligible for an available duty assignment just because you didn’t take the time to acquire the designation of meeting the minimum qualifications for the job.
We have learned of several occasions where higher-level Maintenance Craft employees were unable to stay near their home installation due to an Article 12 impact and their lack of minimum qualification.
One should always leave their options open. Participating in Open Season is easy.
Arbitrations Keep Coming
We have not yet concluded the hearing on Case # C06T-4Q-C 11155080, regarding our challenge to the Postal Service’s implementation of eWHEP staffing procedures in place of BMC Gold staffing procedures at Bulk Mail Centers (NDCs).
As brief background, in 2004, the Postal Service issued a Maintenance Management Order (MMO) announcing that a program known as “BMC Gold” would replace the Interim Staffing Guidelines for BMCs. In 2009, management replaced BMC Gold by mandating the use of the eWHEP program, which was in use in all other mechanized installations.
The Postal Service’s unilateral action in deciding to utilize a procedure that was not designed for the BMC environment and equipment resulted in a loss of staffing. The Postal Service also fabricated numbers to use “temporarily” until the eWHEP was modified to accommodate the BMCs.
We do not believe that such actions meet the standard of “fair, reasonable and equitable” required by Article 19 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We want to thank Dave Sarnacki (Springfield Mass Area Local) and Rob Moyer (Des Moines Area Local) for their valuable assistance in this case.
Settled, Outstanding Issues
The dispute over the RMSS (Revamped Maintenance Selection System) has been resolved. Those who were impacted by the unilateral and retroactive scoring changes management implemented in August 2009 have been remedied.
Some folks would say the bigger news is the final resolution of the Associate Office Infrastructure (AOI) case. In a Dec. 11, 2014, ruling, Arbitrator Shyam Das ordered the Postal Service to pay Maintenance Craft employees $8.64 million for improperly subcontracting work that could have been performed by bargaining unit employees. The ruling concludes four rounds of hearings on management’s decision to subcontract the wiring of more than 7,800 of the largest Associate Offices with computer cable.
We await the award in our travel-related dispute (Case # Q00C-4Q-C 03061346) regarding the Postal Service’s unilateral decision to deduct 30 minutes pay from employees’ compensable travel time. Management asserted that this is the same as taking a meal break.
The only problem with management’s claim is that the contract – since 2001 – has clearly stated that all time in travel for training is compensable. When you travel, you are in that status from the time you leave your home until you check into your next location. There is no “time off” from travel status where you are fully relieved of duty.
The arbitration schedule during negotiations will certainly be reduced, but we are ready to keep moving on this front as well.